The Philippine Passenger Ferry M/V Saint Thomas Aquinas, operated by 2GO ferries, sank at about 9pm Friday 16th August 2013, after a collision with the cargo ship M/V Sulpicio Express Siete (7) operated by PSACC.
The casualty toll at midday Saturday 17th August was 28 confirmed dead with more than 200 others still missing,
M/V St. Thomas Aquinas carried 723 passengers plus crew, and was on route was from Nasipit, Agusan del Norte bound for Cebu.
M/V Sulpicio Express Siete (7) carried either 18 or 36 crew, depending on media reports. This cargo vessel was bound for Davao.
PSACC, the operator of the M/V Sulpicio Express Siete, holds the world record for the worst peacetime maritime disaster following the collision of the MT Vector and the M/V Dona Paz which claimed 4,027 lives in 1987.
|Official Statement on M/V St. Thomas Aquinas Incident|
|At around 9pm of August 16, in the vicinity of Lawis Ledge, Talisay, Cebu, M/V St. Thomas Aquinas, a roro passenger vessel owned by 2GO Group was reportedly hit by M/V Sulcon Express 7, a cargo vessel owned by PSACC (formerly Sulpicio Lines) resulting in major damage that led to its sinking.Immediately after the collision, the crew of the M/V St. Thomas distributed life jackets to the passengers and carried out emergency abandon-ship procedures. At the same time, the ship’s officers sent a distress signal to the nearest Philippine Coast Guard Station to alert them for immediate rescue operations.The official passenger manifest of St. Thomas was 723 passengers and 118 crew or a total of 841 people and 104 equivalent 20 footer container units (TEUS). The vessel has an authorized capacity of 1,010 passengers and crew and 160 units 20 footer containers.While the number of survivors and casualties are still being determined by proper government authorities and shipping officials, rescue operations by the Philippine Navy, Coast Guard, PSACC and 2GO Group are ongoing. 2GO Group has dispatched 2 of its fast crafts and passenger ship M/V St. John Paul which was in the immediate vicinity. Local fishing boats are also helping in the ongoing rescue operations.The vessel came from Surigao and Nasipit Port bound for Cebu as a stopover port and then to Manila. It was estimated to arrive Cebu at 10 p.m.
2GO Group has activated its emergency onsite operations center at port to address all possible requirements for emergencies like this including providing assistance to survivors and coordinating other activities to attend to all the concerns of the passengers.
Meal packs and dry clothes have been distributed to passengers. Those needing medical attention have been attended to by onsite medical personnel while others have already been brought to nearby hospitals. The rest of the passengers have been offered accommodations at a nearby hotel.